Coretta Scott
by Shange, Ntozake; Nelson, Kadir (ILT)






Examines the life of Martin Luther King's wife, Coretta, who in her own right, was a civil rights pioneer who experienced the injustices of the segregated South and who continued her husband's mission after his assassination.





*Starred Review* Unflinching verse and elegant imagery combine in a powerful, evocative, picture-book portrait of Coretta Scott King. As stated on the cover, Shange uses poetry to recount Coretta Scott s life, from her childhood to her marriage with Martin Luther King, Jr. On the final page, the author offers a linear, prose biography, adding context to her more abstract references in the poetry. Omitting punctuation and capitalization, Shange assembles her simple words into a whole that reflects both the facts of Scott s story and her humanity. Nelson s accompanying paintings are luminous and reverent, and as much as they recall his distinct style in books such as Carole Boston Weatherford s Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom (2006), there is something of Norman Rockwell here, too, in the straightforward compositions and profound dignity of the American spirit on display. Concise back matter notwithstanding, this is not a biography of fact and reporting. Instead, poet and painter have joined forces to offer an indelible, emotional expression of the strength, beauty, and joy of one woman s character.





There have been many books written about Martin Luther King Jr., but precious few about Coretta Scott King. Now the poet and painter who previously collaborated on Ellington Was Not a Street (2004) join again for a heartfelt homage that is more adulation than book-report biography. Shange strikes an emotional chord in her recitative about Scott King's youth in the time of Jim Crow, seeking inspiration from the words of a spiritual, finding a soul mate in a young divinity student and joining him on marches and protests. However, the true power of this title lies in Nelson's full-page portraits, which convey determination, fear, serenity and weariness. Words can describe segregation and marching for freedom; the images of a young Coretta and her siblings walking miles to their school or of four college students sitting in at a lunch counter speak rivers. A double-page spread of freedom marchers carrying American flags silhouetted against a yellow sky will resonate with children and linger in their minds. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.






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